In 2017 Rolling Stone magazine chose Simona Levi, as co-founder of Xnet and 15MpaRato, as one of the 25 people in the world who are shaping the future.
A theatre director, playwright, activist, technopolitical strategist, cultural manager and curator, multidisciplinary artist, researcher, reporter and teacher, Levi, who was born in Turin, Italy, is now a Spanish citizen and has resided in Barcelona (Catalonia) since 1990.
Theatre director, playwright, scriptwriter, and cultural managerIn 1993 she started the theatre Conservas, in Barcelona’s Raval neighbourhood as a space designed to promote independent, innovative local theatre creation through self-production with programming of cycles of total performance action seeking the support and shared responsibility of audiences.
The widespread popularity and renown of these cycles, always with overflowing audiences, made it necessary to find spaces with greater capacity.
In 1999 Simona Levi programmed a cycle of shows in the Mercat de les Flors theatre in Barcelona and, in 2001, she created and directed the InnMotion festival of Applied Visual and Performing Arts at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona during the city’s Festival Grec with audiences totalling thousands of people. InnMotion, eventually held biennially, was widely acclaimed at the Catalan, Spanish and international levels on the five occasions it was held.
Video fragment from Inn Motion 2007
Video fragment from Inn Motion 2005
Video fragment from Inn Motion 2002
Video fragment from Inn Motion 2001
In 1999, Simona Levi founded Compañía Conservas, with which she toured all of Europe with several shows over a period of ten years.
With this company she writes, directs and, in some cases, invents stage and audiovisual effects and devices, and designs the lighting, as in the following works:
– Femina Ex Machina (1999-2003) – Winner of the Special Critics’ Prize and the FAD Audience Applause Prize
– 7 Dust, Non Lavoreremo Mai Show (2002- 2005)
– Realidades Avanzadas (Advanced Realities, 2007-2009)
– Hazte Banquero – Tarjetas Black: Todo lo que quisieron ocultarte (Become a Banker: Black Cards – Everything They Wanted to Hide from You, 2016 – 2017)
These shows have been staged in theatres and festivals throughout Europe, including:
Transmediale Festival, Berlin; 4×4 Festival, Prague; Main d’Ouvres, Paris; City of Women Festival, Ljublijana; the Geneva Exineo; Le Zoo/Usine, Geneva; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Fabbrica Europa 2000, Florence; International Festival of Theatre, Sitges; Festival Internazionale di Teatro di Santarcangelo; Festival des Arts Vivants de Nyon (Switzerland); Mladi Levi, Ljubjana Slovenia; International Theatre Festival, Tarrega; Bergen (Cultural Capital 2000); Festival Franco-Iberique et Latino-Americain, Bayonne; Danae Festival, Milan; Kanonhallen, Copenhagen; International Mime Festival, Perigueux; Escena Abierta, Burgos; International London Mime Festival; Mercat de les Flors Theatre, Barcelona; Escorxador Theatre, Lleida; La Fundición, Bilbao; La follia dei linguaggi, Turin; La Rose des Vents Scènes étrangères (France); Malta Festival, Poznan (Poland); Bellone-Brigittines, Brussels; Teatro Libero, Palermo; Madrid Escena Contemporánea; Sala Nasa Theatre, Santiago de Compostela; Théâtre National de Toulouse; Drugo More, Rijeka (Croatia); Koreja Theatre, Lecce (Italy); Noorderzon Festival, Groningen (The Netherlands); Laboral Escena, Gijón; Festival Panorama, Olot; Festival Punto Aparte, Murcia; Festival de Polverigi (Italy); Poliorama Theatre, Barcelona; Rosalía de Castro Theatre, A Coruña; Fernando Fernán Gómez Theatre, Madrid; El Musical Theatre, Valencia; Salt Theatre…
As an activist Simona Levi has focused in recent years, on free culture, digital democracy and the strategic use of digital tools for organisation, technopolitical communication, collective action, the struggle against state corruption and for the renovation of democracy. Founder of projects like Xnet and 15MpaRato, which led to the trial of the chief executives of Bankia—ranked as the fifth bank in Spain—she organises platforms in order to bring corruption to light, and to unmask those who are politically responsible for the economic injustices in Spain and Europe. Levi has been a prominent participant in the 15-M (anti-austerity) movement in Barcelona.
Prior to this, she was active in housing rights movements (VdeVivienda and others) and for the use of public space.
Activist: Creating and Coordinating Mechanisms for Action
Xnet (formerly EXGAE): in 2008 Simona Levi founded the project EXGAE in which, proposing alternative models for cultural dissemination, copyright management, and defence of the Internet and democracy in the digital age, she works with activists and teachers affected by the abuses of the Sociedad General de Autores (Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers) and other entities managing copyright. In 2010, thanks to the measly sense of humour of SGAE, which threatened to take EXGAE to court for breach of the Trademarks and Patents Law, EXGAE changed its name to Xnet. Since then, Xnet has been working for network democracy (mechanisms for participation and citizen control of power and the institutions); to defend a free and neutral Internet; to support knowledge, information and citizen journalism in favour of the right to know, to inform and to be informed; the legal, technical and communication struggle against corruption; and technopolitics understood as online practice and action for empowerment, justice and social transformation.
Since its foundation, Simona Levi has coordinated the project’s strategic design and communication.
Mechanisms produced with Xnet
– OXcars – The biggest free culture event ever: Simona writes the script and directs the staging of the show, a kind of non-competitive Gala-Marathon held in Barcelona every year from 2008 to 2013 in order to bring to light cultural creation and distribution achieved in accordance with free and shared culture paradigms and in defence of a neutral Internet. By means of demonstrations and mentions of several categories of work, real legal solutions are paradoxically demonstrated.
– Free Culture Forum – International Citizen Rights Observatory in the Digital Age: Simona Levi has been coordinator, programmer and director of Free Culture Forum since 2009. This is an international meeting point which brings together in Barcelona organisations and experts in order to create a global strategic framework and a structure for international coordination.
Red Sostenible (in Spanish but see related text From Now on, New and Freedom): Simona Levi was a founder of this citizen platform which, formed in January 2010, is one of the main concerted-action groups against Spain’s Sinde Law on Internet copyright infringements. This was a network of coordination and intervention at the national level which was joined by Internet user organisations, bloggers and journalists, experts in digital communication technology, creators, legal experts specialising in digital rights and copyright, producers’ groups, entrepreneurs and user associations.
(D’) Evolution Summit, citizen summit::
Levi designed and directed this mass-based street action which appeared as a point of counter-information during the Summit of EU Culture Ministers, held in Barcelona during the Spanish EU Presidency.
15MpaRato (the lawsuit filed by organised citizens who, holding bankers responsible for the economic crisis, brought the Bankia corruption case before the National High Court). This citizen campaign which opened what is now known as the Bankia case was founded by Simona Levi.
Citizen Groups against Corruption at the State Level and in Catalonia: Simona Levi organises the joint efforts of groups and individuals who are already active in combatting corruption by means of an active, stable, well-coordinated and collaborative network.
Partido X (X Party): Levi was a founder of the first party to be formed by a group of people close to the 15-M anti-austerity movement and free culture movements. This experimental, anti-party party is a unique, non-ideological prototype based on logic and methodology, upholding a model of democracy fostering citizen participation and monitored by citizens, and exploiting the political potential of digital tools of communication.
Publications, research, lectures, teaching and consultancy
Levi has co-authored several books, notable among them “Votar y cobrar. La impunidad como forma de gobierno” (Vote and charge. Impunity as a form of government) – coauthor with Sergio Salgado -, narration of how her group has initiated the campaign that uncovers the Bankia Case, the leakage of Blesa’s mails and the Black Cards (published by Capitan Swing in 2017); “Tecnopolítica, internet y r-evoluciones” (Technopolitics, the Internet and R-evolutions) – about the key role of digital networks in #15M -, and she has edited “Cultura libre digital – Nociones básicas para defender lo que es de todxs” (Free Digital Culture: Basic Notions for Defending What Belongs to Everyone). Both these books were published in 2012 by Icaria.
She has worked as an investigative journalist and is a member of Reporters without Borders. She edits and publishes the Xnet “Blog de Buzón” (Xnet Mail Box Blog), a space for working together in open-source journalism which is published simultaneously in four online sources: Infolibre, Público, El Confidencial and Vilaweb. She has also appeared in and worked on numerous documentaries.
Levi gives lectures, teaches and offers consultancy in Spanish, Catalan, English, French and Italian on issues ranging from free culture, digital rights, technopolitics, defence of a free, neutral Internet, new forms of democracy and the struggle against corruption. In this area she has worked in a variety of venues including: the Pompeu Fabra University; Goldsmiths University of London; London School of Economics; European Parliament commissions; Parliament of Catalonia commissions; Spanish Parliament commissions; the EU Digital Agenda for Europe Commission; the EU Internal Market Commission; the EU Culture and Education Commission; the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe); Bangor University of London; Hertie School of Governance, Berlin; Barcelona City Council Office for Transparency and Best Practice; University of Barcelona; King’s College, London; Open University of Catalonia; Autonomous University of Barcelona; Complutense University, Madrid; University of Alicante; Pablo de Olavide University, Seville; Barcelona IGOP (Institute of Governance and Public Policies) Summer School; Université d’Évry Val-d’Essonne (School of Engineering); Embassy of Brazil; Annual Open Knowledge Conference; IETM annual meeting; OuiShare Fest; Reina Sofía Museum; Logan – CIJ Symposium; Transmediale Festival; Internet Freedom Festival; Cadesyc; Bertolt Brecht House, Montevideo; Communia Workshop, Luxembourg; Buenos Aires Creative Commons Film Festival; Circumvention; Getafe Negro crime novel festival; Economies of the Commons; Primavera Sound; Rototom Festival; Barcelona Theatre Institute; Circolo degli artisti, Milan; Performing Arts post-graduate programme of FiraTàrrega; Action Europe; Right International Spain; DSI Advisory Group; Museum of the History of Catalonia; Contemporary Art Museum of Castile-León; Casa Invisible, Malaga; European University Institute, Florence; Faculty of Journalism and Communication, Malaga; Circolo Arci, Rome; International Institute for Education and Research, Amsterdam; BAU, Barcelona; Taller de Músics, Barcelona; Attac Austria; Attac Barcelona; CUP Communication Training Seminars; Les Verts Européens; Traficantes de Sueños; MediaLab-Prado; Confavc (Federation of Neighbourhood Associations in Catalonia); FICOD Festival; #Redada at the CCCB, Barcelona; Re:publica Europe, Berlin; Relais Culture Europe; Media Squares; LATU – Technology Laboratory, Uruguay; Tramallol Cooperative; Agora99 – European Meeting on Debt, Rights and Democracy; Barcelona Faculty of Computer Science; Network Cultures Institute; Fòrum Indigestió; Editorial Virus; Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia Foundation; Barcelona Businesswomen’s Association; Pantera Rossa Bookshop, Zaragoza; 4S/EASST Conference; IDHC (Human Rights Institute of Catalonia); Disruption Lab; First International Seminar on Metropolitan Transparency, Het Nieuwe Instituut, MACBA …
Simona Levi is a regular talk-show guest in the Catalunya Ràdio programme “El matí” and since 2016 in “A vivir” from the Cadena Ser.
Since 2017 she has designed and directed the Pompeu Fabra University’s postgraduate’s degree programme “CIVIL RIGHTS, TECHNOPOLITICS AND DIGITAL CULTURE: Common Goods, Democracy and Communication in the Information Age”.
… IN THE 90’s
She lived in Paris for five years, working, studying performing arts and movement with Jacques Lecoq, and participating in the occupied creative space Oeil du Cyclone. She spent a year in Lucerne working as movement director in several plays and participating in the occupied creative space Boa; a year in Manchester working as an actress; and two years in Amsterdam working as an actress, writing her first works for the theatre and the audiovisual format, and also participating in the creative space of the Graan Silo squat.